53 families found homes in 2016 thanks to the Housing Relief Fund. Click to read our Housing Relief Fund 2016 Report.
Read more about the work of the Housing Relief Fund in this coverage by The Columbian.
Meet Nathan and Marina
Even though they were both working, Nathan and Marina could no longer afford their rent after it increased significantly and they became homeless. Sometimes they stayed a night or two with friends. Most nights they were in their van, which became their home. Nathan was injured as the passenger in a car accident forcing him to leave his job and focus on recovering. “Some nights we had to stay in a motel so Nathan could stretch out and sleep,” shares Marina. “When we were in the van he also stayed up most nights to make sure we were safe while I slept.” Their search for help brought them to the Council for the Homeless. “We could not believe how much respect and compassion they showed us. We were so down but they helped us think through our next steps and find an apartment. The help with moving expenses was like winning the lottery!” Marina is back to work and Nathan stays home to care for their new baby, Rose who was born last summer. Their goals include someday having a home in country.
Meet Amanda and Bryan
After living in the same apartment for six years, Amanda, Bryan, their young son, and their dog became homeless. The apartment management changed hands and discontinued their rental payment plan. Using their income to stay in hotels while they worked and their son attended school was stressful. Bryan’s job is in Gresham and the long commute cost him in time and gas money. “In a hotel you can’t cook. And my car was falling apart. It was stressful and expensive,” shares Bryan. They called Council for the Homeless and were able to access a spot at a family shelter operated by Share. During this time, Bryan and Amanda met with Council for the Homeless staff member, Caroline to search for apartments while maintaining their jobs. Bryan “pounded the pavement” every chance he could to apply for apartments. After the third try at a local complex, the manager said yes. “Caroline was able to help us the same day with the deposit. That way we didn’t lose the chance.” They are relieved and grateful. Their son did not have to change schools and he is doing much better now that they are settled. Amanda shares that one day they hope to own a “small house with a small yard.”
Laura and her daughter lived at Courtyard Village Apartments up until December 2014 when they, along with many other tenants, were forced to move when the complex was sold. Council for the Homeless helped them secure rooms to rent where they could keep their two dogs who were like family. After a few ups and downs since then, they now have an apartment of their own – with the dogs – that is on a bus line, near a library, and close to family. Laura writes in a letter to our staff, “Our new place has two bedrooms, a large kitchen, a dining room, and a pantry. I am so happy to be back near family so we can help each other out. I’m also happy that we met you. I wouldn’t have known what to do without your help. I know everyone at Council for the Homeless works hard to help all of us in need.”
John is a dad, husband, and veteran. After John’s experience of homelessness, he and his family are reunited and now have a new apartment for a new beginning. His daughter is growing and enjoying school. He is in school to learn a new career. “Council for the Homeless treated me with kindness and respect,” shares John. “And now we have our own home. We have independence and privacy. The best part is we are together as a family.” John is pictured here with dog Shayla who is very interested in a squirrel off camera.
Lisa and her son had been without a stable home for about a year when she came to Council for the Homeless to begin putting their life back together. “Lisa had left a domestic violence situation and was renting a couch in a relative’s home. She and her son were periodically kicked out on a whim,” explains Caroline Lopez of our Housing Solutions Center. “It was a very stressful way to live.”
Caroline helped Lisa make a plan and over the course of about three months, they worked the plan together. Lisa asked for and was granted increased hours at her job. We assisted with identifying housing leads and paid move-in costs once she was approved at her new apartment. Lisa also saved money to help with the transition to a new home. “The encouragement and guidance I received from Caroline made all the difference in the world,” shares Lisa. “I knew I could do this for my son and for myself because I had someone in my corner.”
Benfina walked into the Council for the Homeless today wearing a bright yellow t-shirt and her face was glowing. She was here to finalize assistance with her move in costs for a new home where she would be reunited with her three daughters. The pictures on her shirt are of her young nephew and her oldest daughter who had just celebrated a birthday and a graduation on the same day!
Born in Micronesia, Benfina and her youngest daughter recently moved here from Hawaii to be closer to Benfina’s two older daughters. They had moved here with their dad several years ago. Benfina found a job as a live-in caregiver but when the position ended, so also did the housing for her and her youngest daughter. Now with a new job at Goodwill Industries, Benfina is able to afford a place of her own where she will live with all three girls since her former husband has passed away. She said, “The girls are so happy to be reunited in one home.”
Her 18-year-old graduated from high school and is enrolling in Clark College with aspirations to be a flight attendant so that she can travel. The younger girls will continue in high school next year. Benfina and her children are now in a place of their own where they can live, grow, and love as a family.
Cassie is safely in a new place to call home, and she is thrilled. She said, “I love it. It’s safe. It’s stable. It’s a healthy place for my kids who have been very sick. Now they are happy and have a roof over their heads.”
Cassie learned of Council for the Homeless several years ago when she was in a domestic violence situation. She phoned the Housing Hotline and found respite in a shelter while she looked for housing for herself and her three children ages 7 and under at the time. She found a place and lived there for four years. Unfortunately, the property flooded and during the renovations her children began to get sick They were in and out of the hospital several times with bouts of pneumonia and asthma. She believes that living through the renovations on her housing was what caused their illness.
The next time Cassie reconnected with Council for the Homeless for housing assistance, she had been living in her car. Piecing the finances together working three different jobs, Cassie was able to afford the ongoing rent for a new place. She just needed help with the moving costs. Because of generous donations through the Housing Relief Fund, Cassie is now in a stable situation and ready to move forward. Cassie said it’s such a relief to see her kids healthy and happy again. She said, “I don’t know where I would be right now. I am so thankful for the help.”
Cassie enjoys her current work, but she is looking to enroll in college because her long term goal is to work in a hospital.
At the age of 28 Antoinette found herself homeless, unemployed, and separated from her toddler-aged son. “Things were so overwhelming. I knew I had to find a way forward but didn’t know how,” she shares. Living in her car or an occasional night in a motel, she sought out counseling and eventually found a good job after submitting over 100 applications.
When Antoinette came to the Housing Solutions Center at CFTH, she worked with Caroline, a housing coordinator, to identify the next steps in finding housing.
“It’s as though in one meeting she validated everything I had been trying to accomplish for two years … she presented the option to better my life and find the stability I had been longing for.”
With the help of the assistance from the Housing Relief Fund, Antoinette was finally able to move out of her car and into a room for rent. “I’m looking forward to seeing my son on a regular basis, continuing to grow in my job, and having my own apartment one day! Everything is better when you have a place to call home.”